A magnificent man in his flying machine

The first aeroplane to fly over Peterborough was piloted by W H Ewen in October 1911.

Friday, 20th January 2017, 4:00 pm
The first plane ever to land in Peterborough

A year later he was at the controls for the first landing of an aircraft in Peterborough.

Thousands gathered to greet him in June 1912 as he arrived at the old golf links in Walton in his aircraft, a 60 HP Cauldron.

Amid the excitement he was presented with a rose bowl by the city’s mayor C. E. Crawley to mark his achivement.

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Crowds gather to greet the plane and pilot W H Ewen

Ewen thrilled the crowds by doing some demonstration flights before he headed off for Lincoln.

But he had barely reached tree height when he hit one and crashed. Fortunately, neither he nor his mechanic was hurt in the accident.

One of the picture shows crowds milling round the crashed plane.

The first recorded fatality in a civilian air crash in the Peterborough area occured eight years later in 1920.

Pilot WH Ewen

The last picture was taken before the plane’s fateful flight from opposite the Cock Inn in Werrington.The pilotand two passengers (none of whom are on the picture) died when the wings collapsed as the aircraft looped the loop at 2,000 ft.

One of the dead was a Mr Guest, who was the son of the landlord of the Salmon and Compass pub in Peterborough.

Crowds mill round the crashed plane
The plane which later crashed and led to the city's first civilian aviation deaths
Crowds gather to greet the plane and pilot W H Ewen
Pilot WH Ewen
Crowds mill round the crashed plane
The plane which later crashed and led to the city's first civilian aviation deaths